By Samson Oyay Awin,
Chairman of Chollo Community,
Jan 26, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —- Thank you for your reply to an appeal we sent through you to your Jieng Community in Upper Nile State for the betterment of understanding and deepening dialogue on the issue of Collo land that is being claimed by the Padang. We were objective in our appeal requesting your community to rethink about the consequences of the imposition of the 28 states on the country. The imposition was engineered and promoted by the Jieng Council of Elders to which your Padang Community belongs and in which you are Co-Chairman.
The Establishment Order No. 36/2015 which grabbed Collo land and gave it to the Dinka neighbouring us was a clear attempt to settle our land dispute through the state power rather than through dialogue, and if that fails, arbitration or litigation. You chose that risky route and that is why we wrote that letter hoping that the Padang Dinka will see that their long term interest can only be guaranteed by reaching agreement with their neighbours, not by using state power.
Emboldened by the false belief that the Establishment Order puts a final end to the land dispute between our two communities, you chose to respond in a condescending manner alleging that our appeal was “full of hate language, incitement rhetoric and war threats”, threatening us that “as a matter of fact, it amounts to a declaration of war by Collo on Padang (Jieng) like what Gen. Olony is doing”! Nothing in our appeal was hateful, inciting or threatening; and we never referred to the case of Gen. Johnson Olony.
Honourable Joshua, Collo didn’t declare war on anybody. Gen Olony or any group that is fighting in the name of Collo has been forced to defend themselves against Jieng government forces. Jieng declared war on Collo with the issuance of the establishment order 36/2015. By implementing that order you are already executing the war and your forces are right now in the west of the White Nile River. So you are not even respecting the border you claim to be the middle of the river. Unlike the Jieng Council of Elders and its subsidiary (Padang), which commands the government and its military, Collo Community Council is a civilian group that puts dialogue before force. It is in this spirit that we approached Padang. You are free to accept dialogue or reject.
Honourable Joshua Dau, you corner yourself when you claim that “This long time feud is rooted in history since the Collo people started to cross to Jieng side – east of the Nile and began to give names of their villages across west of the Nile where they left for newly found homes east of the Nile. This claim is what is being contested/disputed”. For the benefit of your readers could you care to tell us: since when did Collo start “to cross to Jieng side – east of the Nile”? If Collo crossed from the west to east of the Nile, did they find Jieng there? If they did, how did the Jieng abandon their land?
History tells us that Collo Kingdom is six centuries old. In fact, it predates the Sudanese state let alone the South Sudanese state which is just over four years old. The Collo were there all this time. Credible historical sources point to the fact that the Jieng now neighbouring Collo migrated to where they are today in the eighteenth (Abilang) and nineteenth century (the rest). That is two (2) to three (3) centuries after the Collo were there. Could you, Honourable Joshua, cite one single case when the Collo fought the Dinka over land prior to 1980s?
The truth is that in the two to three centuries they were neighbours Collo never fought the Jieng at all, not until the likes of Joshua Dau began their open agitation in 1979 onwards. Collo fought the Turks and the Ansars, but the only Southern tribe Collo fought was, ironically, our cousins the Anyuaks.
What you call “long time feud is rooted in history” only started in late 1979. It was by that time you personally, Honourable Joshua Dau, openly agitated that the border between Collo in Upper Nile Province and Jieng in Jonglei Province was in the middle of both the Sobat River and the Bahr El Jebel/White Nile and insisted that Collo should relocate to west of the Nile. As you well know, the dispute you championed led to loss of lives when the Jieng in 1980 attacked Collo villages of Athidhiang and Chango. You are also well aware of the claims on Collo land made by your chiefs in their letters to the High Executive Council in 1981 and 1982 and the decision made by the teams that were sent to delineate and peg the borders. These teams concluded that the land in dispute belongs to Collo. You and the Jieng didn’t stop there, a petition was also written to President Omer al-Bashir on the same issue in 1994 and in 1995 the answer that came from him was the same; all these lands that Jieng were claiming belonged to Collo.
In October 2004, the late Dr John Garang de Mabior, Chairman of the SPLM, issued an Order creating four (4) counties in Collo land; namely, Makal, Panyikang, Fashoda and Manyo. In November 2004, and in reaction to this Order, some Ngok Jieng wrote a petition to Chairman Garang claiming Collo’s land east of the Nile including Malakal town. Their case was dismissed and the Order was upheld. This is the history when justice and fairness prevailed.
Things began to change with the ascendance of President Salva Kiir to power. He began to use his authority in the interest of Jieng who were claiming Collo’s land, starting with giving out Pigi to Jieng in 2009 and now with the Establishment Order No. 36/2015 annexing Collo land to the grand Jieng state, East Nile. He was succumbing to your agitation.
The meetings in Juba you refer to were frustrated by none other than your group. When you realized that you could not argue your case with established facts, you chose to go underground and the joint committee died a natural death. We are in possession of the letter written by the Padang Community to the President in July 2015 requesting the creation of the current East Nile and West Nile states and also the joining together of Panaru and Abiemnhom counties (which do not share a border) to form the Ruweng state. Everybody knows that this request was fully granted in the Establishment Order and, actually, the backbone of it. The East Nile and West Nile states, as came in the Order, are a fulfilment of your claims on Collo land that the border is in the middle of the Nile!
The behaviour of Jieng in Malakal town since that Order was issued as well as other indications suggest that the Jieng want all Collo to cross to the west of the Nile; presumably, according to your agitation, where they came from!
We would like to advise you and the Jieng as a whole that governments come and go, but our communities will continue to be neighbours as they used to be for centuries. Peaceful co-existence can only be guaranteed through genuine dialogue, not by any other means.
Samson Oyay Awin,
Chairman of Chollo Community Council
- H.E Festus G. Mogae, Chairman, JMEC, Juba, South Sudan
- Secretary General, UN Headquarters, New York, USA
- Troika (USA, UK and Norway)
- His Majesty, Reth Kwongo Dak Padit, Chollo King
- Dr. Joshua Otor Kwathker, Chairman of Chollo Intellectuals, Juba, South Sudan
- Ramadan Chan Loil, Chairman of Padang Community Association, Juba, South Sudan